A Spirited Affair: Saving Flynn

A Spirited Affair is on the horizon! We’re less than two weeks away from our fundraising event featuring beer, wine, and whisky. Come join us as we step back in time to the 1860s! Dodge the Temperance advocate, sample fantastic food and drink, and then leap forward to the 1920s where we’ll dance the night away (and enjoy more fantastic food and drink)!

But there’s a serious cause alongside our celebration. The Spirited Affair is a fundraiser, directly impacting a restoration campaign called “Explore History­ – Build a Better Future.” This campaign was launched by the Living History Foundation with support from the Toronto Region Conversation Authority. This year, we are focusing on the much-needed restoration of Flynn House.

The exterior of the Flynn House.
The exterior of the Flynn House.

The Flynn House is one of my favourite buildings at Black Creek. Built in 1858 and originally located on Yonge Street in North York, it was the home of Daniel Flynn and his family. Daniel Flynn was a shoemaker who emigrated to Canada from Ireland. His boot and shoe shop is also located at Black Creek Pioneer Village, standing just around the corner from the home.

The Flynn House is unique. It is the only building in the village that shows how a tradesman’s family would have lived. The building’s rectangular façade reveals that home and shop were originally connected. The Flynn House also provides a unique opportunity to discuss the experience of new arrivals to “the Canadas.”

The Flynn family was of Irish origin. The Irish formed the single largest immigrant group in nineteenth century Canada and many immigrants were among the working class, traveling to the colonies in hopes of building a better life. The Great Famine (1845-1851) spurred even greater emigration from Ireland. In “Black ’47,” 38,560 Irish refugees arrived in Toronto – which at the time had a population of just 20,000. Many of these Irish immigrants continued their journey to the United States, but those who remained formed a vital source of urban labour during Toronto’s economic boom of the 1850s-60s.

The cosy kitchen.
The cosy kitchen.

There are few other opportunities at Black Creek to explore this vital chapter of Toronto’s history. Stories like the Flynns’ not only highlight the conditions of the working class, but also the ways in which Canadian history has been shaped by the experiences and contributions of new Canadians.

The Flynn House has had virtually no maintenance for several years and was shut to the public in 2010. Without this much-needed restoration, its decline will continue.

Damage to the floorboards is visible to the right midground of this image.
Damage to the floorboards is visible to the right midground of this image.
Weathering to the exterior.
Weathering to the exterior.

So, come out for an unforgettable evening of food, drink, music, and dance – and raise a glass to Daniel Flynn!

– Katie

A Spirited Affair: Participating Drink Companies

– Forty Creek Distillery

– Still Waters Distillery

– Black Oak Brewing Company,

– Black Creek Historic Brewery

– Sue-Ann Staff Estate Winery

– Peninsula Ridge Estates Winery

– Pelee Island Winery

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